Wednesday Night #1683

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Peter Berezin will join us to discuss the May Bank Credit Analyst report: What Am I Good For? Debating The Merits Of Active Versus Passive Management and his newly published report on how evolving technological trends will affect the labor market, Rage Against The Machines: Is Technology Exacerbating Inequality?
— For most of the 20th century, technological progress translated into improved living standards for the common worker.
— Over the past three decades, however, real wages have failed to keep pace with rising productivity, resulting in soaring inequality in many countries.
— Although a number of factors are responsible for this trend, technological change has played an important role.
Bloomberg Piketty coverWhich leads us to the all-consuming Piketty phenomenon that has stirred up such a range of critical opinion, including Peter’s entry on  BCA’s new public blog “… there are “two Pikettys” in full display in this wonderful, but ultimately, flawed book. On the one hand, there is Piketty the economist, who has done an exemplary job of gathering and analyzing the historic data on the distribution of wealth and income from days gone by, as well as creating an intellectual framework for thinking about how this distribution varies over time. On the other hand, there is Piketty the policy entrepreneur, who often seems to place greater importance on redistributing income away from the wealthy, rather than stressing the goal of creating an economic environment that would allow real incomes for everyone to grow more quickly. I like the first Piketty a lot more than the second one.”
Paul Krugman gushes in The New York review of Books that Piketty has transformed our economic discourse; we’ll never talk about wealth and inequality the same way we used to.
The Guardian Inequality hurts everyone apart from the super-rich – and here’s why , not surprisingly, is in the Krugman camp:  The extraordinary success of Thomas Piketty’s best-seller shows that progressive ideas are at last winning
Project Syndicate has awarded Piketty the status of focal point and offers a range of views by such leading lights as Ricardo Hausmann (Piketty’s Missing Knowhow), Kenneth Rogoff (Where Is the Inequality Problem?) and Dani Rodrik (Piketty and the Zeitgeist).
Bloomberg/Business Week puts him on the cover, but doesn’t gush- … Whatever the public verdict on his data, whatever future economists say about his theory and predictions, Piketty has touched off the most vigorous public conversation about inequality since Occupy Wall Street—only this time it’s a conversation about data and economics, rather than the wealth of certain bankers and the propriety of camping in the streets. That’s a lot of progress to come from one man.
On the other hand, a grumpy Keith Weiner writes in Forbes (Thomas Piketty Pens Communist Manifesto for 21st Century): I didn’t read his book, though you don’t have to in order to understand why it’s mostly wrong..
And now, ensuring continued interest and debate, the Financial Times’ Chris Giles is accused of making serious errors in his critical analysis of Professor Piketty’s work. As The Guardian points out: Interest in both Piketty and inequality shows little sign of waning. Both Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, and Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, cited the need to narrow the gap between rich and poor in speeches this week.

Should you think that Thomas Piketty (and his reviewers) are the only persons writing on the economy:
Brett House co-authored, with Salomé Mirigay a Jeanne Sauvé Foundation Social Economy Intern Canadian finance needs to get more responsible
The Economic Institute of Montreal has just published Viewpoint: The $15-Billion Quebec Surplus That Might Have Been by Youri Chassin
Eleven years ago, a government was elected in Quebec by promising to re-examine the functioning of the state and diminish the tax burden of individual Quebecers. However, between the fiscal years 2003-2004 and 2013-2014, the size of the provincial government continued to grow relative to the economy. Indeed, during this period, the Quebec economy grew by 39.6% while public spending increased by 66.9% and revenue by 65.6%. What would have happened if the growth of public spending had been limited to the same rate as economic growth during these ten years?
And we can look forward to lengthy -if not breathless- coverage of Minister Leitao’s first budget, on Wednesday, which will be an attempt to reign in Quebec’s spending. Martin Patriquin is skeptical: Philippe Couillard risks making the same mistakes as Charest — With an aging population and massive debt to handle, it could be a case of déjà vu for the Quebec premier

The results of the European Parliament elections have elicited much concern Kimon Valaskakis published an opinion piece in The Gazette on Saturday: Europe’s new anti-EU mood is an ominous sign . He will be with us to elaborate further.
One month ago, Thomas Piketty (there he is again!) and 14 others produced Our manifesto for Europe The European Union is experiencing an existential crisis, as the European elections will soon brutally remind us. This mainly involves the eurozone countries, which are mired in a climate of distrust and a debt crisis that is very far from over: unemployment persists and deflation threatens. Nothing could be further from the truth than imagining that the worst is behind us. And in Re-winning Europe Javier Solano offers a plan to renovate the EU’s increasingly ineffective and unpopular institutions. The Economist’s cover story for the European and UK editions is Europe’s angry voters.

India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to be the subject of international scrutiny for some time. In Will Modi’s India Reinvent International Relations? Cleo Paskal gives a fascinating tour d’horizon. However, at home, Mr. Modi faces tenacious problems in a fast-changing but troubled country — Caste prejudice, lamentable policing and a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude.

A far less inspiring election result is that of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi elected Egypt president by landslide
Former army chief wins presidential vote with an overwhelming 93 percent [of a low voter turnout].

Despite the apparent lack of results regarding the kidnapped Nigerian girls – here are two Nigerian stories to warm your heart:
Local Borno village women’s group repels Boko Haram attack on their communities – Don’t mess with these women.
And the extraordinary story of Dr.Ola Orekunrin, a medical doctor, helicopter pilot and Managing Director of the Flying Doctors Nigeria Ltd, West Africa’s first indigenous air ambulance service.

June 3 – Luncheon with speaker Mr. Vadym Prystaiko, Ukrainian Ambassador to Ottawa
The CIC Montreal invites you to a luncheon to hear the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ottawa, Mr. Vadym Prystaiko, discuss the recent events in Ukraine that have been difficult for everyone in the region. The May 25th presidential elections were a crucial point for the Ukrainian nation as never before. How does Ukraine see its own future and what is the constructive way forward for the entire country? More information

Two important anniversaries this week:
June 4 marks the 25th anniversary of the day when the Chinese Communist party (CCP) sent 200,000 soldiers in armoured tanks to suppress the peaceful pro-democracy protest in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. In China’s Quarter Century Of Cracking Down On Dissent, Christopher Bodeen describes the harsh measures Chinese authorities take in order to maintain control of the population, however “Despite these efforts, China sees what many of what it calls “mass incidents” threatening social stability. One Chinese sociologist, Sun Liping, has estimated there are about 180,000 per year, ranging from organized marches to spontaneous protests and even violence sparked by anger over working conditions, corruption, environmental degradation and ethnic unrest.”
Seventy years ago on June 6 1944, the Allied armies invaded Normandy. Michael Enwright’s reflections on The Folly of Commemorating War: D-Day 70th Anniversary raise some good points, however, one of the most fascinating documentaries we have seen is Nova’s account of a unique collaboration between military historians, archaeologists, and specialist divers to carry out the most extensive survey ever done of the seabed bordering the legendary beachheads. Dive teams, submersibles, and underwater robots will discover and identify key examples of Allied craft that fell victim to German shellfire, mines, and torpedoes, using the latest 3D-mapping tools to plot the relics on the sea floor. Highlighting the ingenious technology that helped the Allies overcome the German defenses, and featuring first-hand accounts from Allied veterans who have returned to the site of this epic battle to share their harrowing stories, “D-Day’s Sunken Secrets” unfolds a vivid blow-by-blow account of the tumultuous events of D-Day and reveals how the Allies’ intricate planning and advanced technology assured the success of the most ambitious and risky military operation ever launched.
Also remarkable is the color footage shot by Hollywood director George Stevens

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